Hilton Head, SC

My family had descended on Hilton Head, South Carolina as a vacation and as a quasi-family reunion. Much of my father’s side of the family hailed from the south. I was nine at the time and it took me no time at all to make friends with some of the other kids at the resort. We turned into a sort of trouble brigade, exploring places in the hotel that guests weren’t supposed to go, taking floatable furniture from the beach out into the water in spite of beach servers admonishing us.  “You aren’t our parents!” we would yell back. Of course, our parents were unreachable, off on the links at one of the golf courses.

We felt we hit the jackpot when my parents announced that the ‘adults’ would be going out for dinner and wouldn’t be back until late -after one in the morning- and we kids should amuse ourselves with the television or the movie that the hotel showed in the evenings in the little theater. If we wanted a snack, go ahead and get it and sign it to the room.  By ten o’clock we’d seen the movie, discovered that nothing good was on television and decided to go outside and see what we could find to do.

The idea was presented that we should drag a few of the chaise longues from the patio down to the beach so we could eat snacks and watch the ocean. Thanks to the Naval Station in Charleston, there were often large vessels cruising the area headed in or out. Ignoring the sign which asked guests to ‘please do not move furniture to the beach,’ a couple of us grabbed the foot end of the lounging chairs and dashed down across the sand with them. Halfway there we hear someone protesting and asking angrily, “what’s going on?”

It turned out that an elderly gentleman was, wrapped in a blanket to keep the night chill off of him, had fallen asleep in one of the chairs we’d purloined. We kept on going because at first, his voice muffled by the blanket, we thought it was a hotel staff member back up at the hotel patio. We were almost at the waters edge when we realized we’d just kidnapped another guest. The chaise was jerked from our hands as he fought the blankets off and kicked out at us.

“What the hell are you boys doing?” he snarled at us as we stood on either side of the chair. We weren’t sure what to do, this was an unexpected development. Finally, a boy named Willie told him we were just taking the chair to the waters edge and didn’t realize anyone was in it. He didn’t ingratiate himself to the old gentlemen by saying in his southern accented voice  “We din know you was in the chair, you bein’ kinda puny an’ all.”

In the wink of an eye, the old guy snatched up a towel and snapped it hard enough to leave a mark on Willie’s cheek. “Hey!” said Willie, “that huite!”

“Serves you right you little mongrel.” snarled the old man. “Now, roll me back up to the veranda and put that other chair back as well.” What with his accuracy with the towel, we all figured it was best to do as he asked so Willie and I grabbed the foot of the lounge and trudged it back up to the hotel, the old gent riding like an emperor.

We deposited him back where we found him and he asked us what our names were. Not wanting to tell him, we each quickly threw out the first name we thought of. I said I was “Bill.” The old guy was pretty cool about things, he had the waiter get us all an ice cream soda and sent us on our way.

Relieved we’d escaped without some dreaded consequence, like our parents finding out what we’d done, we decided to call it a night and each of us head back to our rooms so we’d look innocent when our parents returned.

None the wiser to our brush with trouble, my parents herded my sister and I down to the restaurant for breakfast. I almost choked on my orange juice when a familiar voice from behind said “Good morning, Bill. Is this your family?”

My father stood and introduced himself, my mom and sister and said that he’d obviously met his son BOB. I felt myself sliding down in the chair, trying my hardest to shrink into nothingness. “Ah, Bob,” said the old guy. “I’m terrible with names. I guess it comes with age.”

“How do you know my son?” asked my father.

“Why, he helped me get fro the beach up to the veranda last night. He’s a good hearted young man.” My mom looked proud, my father looked dubious.  “You all enjoy your breakfast. I need to be on my way,” said the elderly man. He toddled off to a table at the other end of the restaurant.

I felt terrible when my mom said that she was so proud of me for helping that man that she thought I deserved a special reward. I’d been wanting to have my parents rent a Sunfish for me, a kind of combination surfboard and sailboat. They had balked at it, but on account of my good behavior, they’d rent me one for the afternoon.

I pushed it off the beach and sailed it around a it, but it just wasn’t fun. My conscience was nagging at me I suppose. I brought the craft back to the beach early and turned it in, not feeling very good about the special treatment.

My father thundered at me for wasting his money. I couldn’t have been more pleased to take a good dressing down.


The Curse of Secrets

Tanya stretched, luxuriating in the warmth of the sun as she lay on a towel in her back yard. She was, she promised herself, going to get a tan going early on this year. No tan lines either. The thick arborvitae growing around the perimeter of the yard hid her from prying eyes. She was quite alone, save for the fly or whatever it was making that buzzing sound she kept hearing. She waves an arm limply through the air to ward off the insect. So far it hadn’t landed on her but she could hear it.

The buzzing grew a little louder and she opened her eyes and peered around trying to see what creature was making the noise. Come to think of it, it didn’t really sound like an insect. There was something mechanical about the noise, now that she thought about it. Rolling onto her back she sat up and looked all around. “Huh,” she said aloud, not seeing anything. Then a shadow flickered across her still white legs causing her to look up. Hovering about fifty feet above her head was an X shaped contraption. There were propellers at the ends of the X shaped arms, but, she noted with alarm, there was a camera mounted below the hovering intruder. She could see the blink of a red LED showing that the camera was in operation.

Tanya shrieked and raised her arms to hug herself and hide her ample bosom. Then there was a moment of shifting her arms to hide her chest, then the region below her navel. Up, down, up and down she shifted her arms before shouting in anger and making a most un-ladylike gesture to the hovering spy. Four blocks away, three adolescent boys crowded around a computer screen and tittered and giggled at the enraged woman displayed on it. “We need to call it back before my dad gets home.” said Francis, the leader of the small clique. “If he caught me flying his drone …well, I don’t even wanna think about it. He’d be really torqued off.”

“Aw, come on.” said Dave. He was the second of the spy ring and Francis’ best friend. “Another minute.”

“She’s leaving anyway.” said Burt, the third member of the clandestine trio. “Look. There she goes.” The boys all admired the view as their victim grabbed her towel from the ground and ran into her house. Francis reached for the joystick controls and maneuvered the remote controlled spy craft up and back towards his own yard. A half minute later they could hear the whine of the four little motors with their whirring propellers. The boys were all laughing and enjoying their moment, thus the aircraft wobbled along its return course. Francis guided it gently to the ground and then went to collect it while Dave ad Burt packed up the controlling ground station that allowed the pilot of the craft to see through the onboard camera.

“How come you’re so afraid of your old man anyway?” asked Dave. “Why would he be mad at you for flying his quadcopter?”

“This thing cost almost ten thousand bucks. If anything happened to it, he’d kill me.” replied Francis.

“Ten grand? No kidding?”

“Ten grand.”

The boys carefully put the drone and its controller back in Francis’ dad’s closet, just the way he left it. He hooked the big LiPo battery that powered it to the charger, where his father had left it trickle charging. Assured they had gotten away with their prohibited act, they made their way to the kitchen to make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.After lunch the boys headed over the park to the public pool for a swim. It was pretty hot for early June, the temperature was in the eighties.

The following day was Saturday and Francis’ dad, Frank, went looking for his son. He found him in front of the television playing his Xbox. “Hey son! I thought I’d take the drone out. There’s no wind and it’s a beautiful day. We can take it over to the park and use it to take some video of the Little League games. What do ya say?”

“Sure!” grinned Francis. “Can I fly it?”

“You bet, kiddo. I’ll bring a few batteries and we’ll take turns. After, we’ll stop by McDonald’s and get a burger and shake. Sound good?”

“Sounds great!”

Francis carried the ground station. It was contained in a suitcase-like carrier. With the ground station you could either use the manual joystick controls, or program it to fly itself on a preselected course. It was integrated with Google maps just for that purpose. Frank carried the drone, holding it as gently and firmly as if it were a baby. In a way, it was kind of like a child. Frank had saved for three years to afford the drone and controller, complete with its ‘first person view’ capability that gave the pilot a bird’s eye view. Or drone’s eye view to be exact.  They walked together the six blocks to the park, amiably chatting as the strolled along. Frank adored his boy and Francis returned the favor. That’s why Francis felt a pang of guilt over his unauthorized use of his father’s drone. His dad worked hard to provide form Francis and his mother, Frank’s bride of sixteen years.

Father and boy set up the ground station and prepared the drone for flight. After a while, the drone lifted off and made a test circuit around the park. As they controlled it, a small crowd of people gathered to watch Frank and Francis, fascinated by the drone and what they could do with it from the electronics in the suitcase. Tanya happened to enter the park and saw the gathering of people. Curious, she walked over to see what had caused the small crowd. Just as she arrived, she heard the familiar buzz of the motors and watched the little aircraft come to a landing in front of the man and boy working the controls. Her face contorted in anger as she saw the drone.

Storming over to the pair of R/C aviators, she asked Frank if that was his aircraft. When he responded proudly that it was, she hauled off and punched him right on his nose. There was a sickening crunch as his nose broke and blood freely flowed from his nostrils. “Cripes lady! What’s wrong with you?” shouted Frank. She yelled at him about not trying to hide his perverted activities as Francis looked on in horror. Tanya called Frank ten kinds of pervert and turned to the crowd and yelled out how this scum had used the drone to spy on her as she was sunbathing in the nude, supposedly secluded on her own private property. The crowd made angry noises and surged towards Frank with menace. All Frank could do was stuttered weak denials that made him sound worse than Tanya had. Realization came to Frank and he looked at his son not with anger, but deep disappointment. “It was you, wasn’t it?” he said quietly to Francis. “You took my drone out and used it to peep on this woman as she was sunbathing.”

There was no need to answer, Francis’ face gave it all away. He looked down and toed the dirt with his toe. “I’m sorry dad. I’m just so sorry.” He explained how he, Dave and Burt had been ‘just trying out the drone’ when they spotted Tanya. His father shook his head and looked to the outraged woman and spoke.

“I am truly sorry about this.” he said. “I’m embarrassed, believe me. I can assure you though that it will never happen again.” With those words he walked the few steps to his precious drone, lifted a foot and then stomped the drone into a million pieces. Francis looked on in horror, knowing how much his dad enjoyed the drone, and knowing as expensive as it was, there’d be no replacing it. Satisfied, Tanya accepted Frank’s apology and strode off. Frank then knelt to pick up the pieces of his ruined aircraft, tossing them into the control suitcase. Francis started to help but his father stopped him. “Don’t.” was all he said. He refused to look at his boy as he spoke. When all of the broken parts were collected up, Frank closed the suitcase and strode through the thinning crowd towards home. Francis followed a few paces behind.

Francis knew that he’d lost something very precious that day. He’d lost the respect of his dad. The anger he knew his father felt would dissipate, and the disappointment would wane. But it would never really be gone. He thought of peer pressure, remembering how his friends had nagged at him to take the drone out, and how he buckled to their power of persuasion. He thought that to ingratiate himself to his friends he had lost an important and precious component of the relationship he treasured the most. His relationship with his father.

Over time the event faded, but things were never the same after that day in the park. But  Francis learned to make his own choices and stick with them, always doing what he believed to be right. If only he’d come to that conclusion sooner.

Reducing the symptoms of NPBG-Non-Posting Blogger Guilt

Here are couple of random pictures of my humanitarian trip to Peru. (I hate posting without a picture) Kris kissing a llama for good-luck!
Working at a village school in Matinga, Peru. the school shared one box of crayons. We painted and cleaned, brought needed school supplies and made many new friends.

My posts have become fewer and farther in between. I am finding that on the “good days” I don’t make the time to write. I am too busy running around trying to get as much done as I can, and enjoy feeling good as much as I can. On the “bad days” which unfortunately come too often, it takes far too much energy to put down my thoughts on paper–er computer.

So in a gallant effort to actually post something I have decided to forgo writing down the actual posts that have been rolling around in my mind and just give you a clever title which I may or may not expand on in the future–Hey I make no major commitments while on this “roller coaster.”

So here goes..

July 4, 2010 “Long naps,…. Short walks in the woods,…….. A weekend with my family in Star Valley, Wyoming——Priceless!”

July 6, 2010 “Living with the Man of my Dreams” celebrating Twenty-six adventure filled years with my amazing husband.

July 15, 2010 “I have an eight-track mind without a rewind” My steroid-chemo induced mind games and the people who play them.

July 18, 2010 “My Three Sons” the adventures of a Myeloma-Mom and a Micro-Managing dad trying to keep it all together from a 12, 15, and 18 year old boy’s perspective. Trust me this would be a short post.

Just imagine how great these posts would be. You laughed….You cried…. and you were inspired by my every word. Wow I feel a lot better now. How about you?

And now to erase all non-posting guilt, Here is the low down on what’s been happening on my myeloma mountain climbing adventures.

I am in the middle of the 11th cycle Six weeks to go!!! If I can stand it. It is not getting any easier that’s for sure. I started out last week feeling pretty good, but developed a bad cough and chest congestion by Wednesday. I spent three hours at Utah Valley Hospital getting checked out by Dr. Riches NP. After a blood test, oxygen level test, and a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, She decided that I had the beginnings of bronchitis. I was giving a high power, high dose antibiotic, my old friend Levaquin and sent on my way. She told me it was good I went in when I did because I need to stay healthy enough to receive chemo on Monday. (Is there something wrong with this picture?…I need to stay well so I can take a nasty poison that will make me sick) Oh well whatever it takes to get through this.

I continued to drain of energy but my cough has been getting better. By Saturday I was completely down, could barely get out of bed. I slept most of the day. Thanks to my husband for taking care of me and the kids. And then this “roller coaster” of a life changed directions and Sunday morning I felt much better. I was able to go to church and spent a great day with my family.

Everyday is an adventure one filled with highs and lows. My family and My Heavenly Father keeping me going and I am truly blessed by both.